Merton’s Prayers: Introduction

​In my classes on Spiritual Formation, I had the opportunity to refer to a host of saints, canonized and otherwise. I made it a point to say that when studying persons, the best way to get to know them is through their journals and letters. I have been particularly fortunate to have that opportunity in my study of John Wesley, and others as well.

One such person is Thomas Merton. His complete extant journals have been published as well as a plethora of letters. [1] A while back, I decided to go through Merton’s journals one more time, this time paying attention to his prayers. [2] I have noticed them during my previous readings; now, I want to make them the focus. Merton’s prayers not only tell us about his prayer life, they provide insights to enrich our praying. I believe Merton’s prayers can be rain falling into the soil of our souls where seeds planted by the Spirit are waiting to germinate and bear fruit.

This series of occasional posts is my invitation to you to come along with me on this journey through Merton’s journals. I believe we are in for a treat. I will post the first prayer tomorrow. [3]


[1] You can easily find his journals by searching “the journals of Thomas Merton” in the Amazon Book Store search box. They come up together and can be purchased individually or as a set. For some reason, the five volumes of letters do not come up in a set, but only by individual titles: ‘The Hidden Ground of Love’….’The Road to Joy’….’The School of Charity’….’The Courage for Truth’….and….’Witness to Freedom.’ Each volume gathers Merton’s letters according to topics.

[2] His comments about prayer are important in addition to the prayers, but they are too numerous to include in this series. Focusing on the prayers alone will take some time.

[3] This series also appears on the International Thomas Merton Society (Group Page) on Facebook. If you are not familiar with the ITMS, I hope you will give it a look, and perhaps become a group member. The Society has two Facebook pages, a general one and a group one.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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